FOXBOROUGH — Make no mistake, the good times a lot of people had — fans, teammates, coaches — with Tom Brady as quarterback of the Patriots were too many to even count. It was somewhere along the lines of infinity.
So many wins. So many iconic moments. Six Super Bowl titles. They were enough to last sports lifetimes for many people, wrapped up in just one team for 20 years.
But, truthfully, the good times had inside the team came fewer and fewer the past couple of seasons culminating in last season's tour de misery by Brady, who admitted to Al Michaels last year, "I’m the most unhappy 8-0 quarterback in football."
Not that Brady wasn't justified for being frustrated for a multitude of reasons, including a constant parade of mediocre weapons and having fewer of his suggestions incorporated into the gameplan (the coaches were trying to do the best with what they had ... it didn't have much to do with Brady).
But it helped foster an air around the team of, well, misery. Fort Foxborough is never a place of joy during the football season thanks to Bill Belichick's unending quest for a weekly victory, but it was even worse when Brady joined in the unhappiness. If Belichick was Doom, then Brady was Gloom.
And it grated on people behind the scenes to the point, as we've previously reported, that some players and others around the teams thought that it would be best for everyone if Brady didn't return for the 2020 season. If Brady wasn't going to be happy with the weapons and the offense — and it really didn't change — then what was the point of doing it all again? So he can be the most miserable quarterback in the league a second-straight year (he might have been the most miserable QB to win a Super Bowl, while we're at it). Better to just move on.
And they did. Brady went to Tampa to work with a "fun" offensive coach in Bruce Arians. Belichick worked his crystal ball to see that Cam Newton would be the last veteran quarterback standing without a contract at the end of the day.
And, finally, on Sunday, we got to see how the other side would be for the Patriots.
It was just one game with no film to scout off of, but Newton being Brady's successor got off to a very promising start in the 21-11 victory.
The Patriots didn't light it up offensively. Newton made a few mental mistakes. But you say this much: the air was different around the Patriots, and it wasn't from not having any alcohol-fueled fans breathing on them.
Having Newton as the quarterback